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When to Go to the ER After Encountering Venomous Animals in Wyoming

When to Go to the ER After Encountering Venomous Animals in Wyoming

Living in Wyoming means interacting with the outdoors on an almost daily basis. For most of us, the dramatic vistas and easy access to wilderness makes the occasional bug bite worth it. Your opinion on the serenity of the outdoors might quickly change if you’re bitten by a snake or spider. However, not every bite from venomous animals in Wyoming requires an immediate trip to the emergency room.

Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County experts can inspect every bite sustained on your outings, and provide relief when needed. But before you even head out into the wilderness, read up on when to call 911 after an animal or spider bite and when to watch and wait.

Rattlesnake Bites Are Rare But Serious

Snakes are all over Wyoming, but only two species are venomous in the state: the prairie rattlesnake and the midget faded rattlesnake. The prairie rattlesnake is the more common of the two and can be found throughout the state’s lower elevations. While the midget faded rattlesnake is a threatened (not yet an endangered) species, it’s commonly found in certain areas throughout the state, like Green River.

Each year, around five people die in the U.S. from all snake bites, and rattlesnake bite deaths are even less common. However, bites often cause moderate to major medical problems. And, while you probably won’t come across one, the midget faded rattlesnake has venom that may be more toxic than some cobras.

Venomous Snake Bite Treatment

Rattlesnakes don’t want to bite you as much as you don’t want to get bitten by them. Young men, usually under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are the most likely demographic to receive rattlesnake bites — another reason not to mix alcohol and camping.

If you do get bitten by a rattlesnake, you should seek immediate emergency care. Call 911, and head to your local emergency room so they can have antivenom ready when you show up. Calling Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) may also be helpful.

Other types of non-venomous snake bites may also need emergency care. If you or someone with you can safely take a picture of the snake, that can help hospital providers know if you need treatment with antivenom. Do not try to capture the snake or bring it to the hospital with you.

That Spider Probably Isn’t a Brown Recluse

Spiders are the only other venomous animal in Wyoming likely to bite you. The only common venomous spider in Wyoming is the western black widow spider. Although people may claim they have seen brown recluse spiders in their homes, they usually have spotted a barn funnel weaver spider. Brown recluses do not live in Wyoming — they’re native to the south and central U.S.

Western black widow spiders are distinguishable by the iconic, red hourglass markings on their black abdomens. Just like snakes, spiders are not trying to bite you. But female black widows are more likely to bite if you come close to their web when they have an egg sac. Baby black widow spiders cannot bite humans; only older-juvenile and grown female spiders can penetrate skin with venom.

Does My Spider Bite Need Treatment?

Black widow bites are rarely fatal and rarely require major medical intervention. However, if you know the spider bite was definitely a black widow, it may be prudent to seek urgent or emergency care. Watch out for symptoms such as:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Painful cramping
  • Rash
  • Signs of infection, such as redness or pus
  • Sweating
  • Swelling in the face
  • Trouble breathing

Kids Always Need Emergency Care

If your child is bitten by a possibly venomous animal in Wyoming, don’t delay a trip to the emergency room. A small amount of venom may be a minor incident for an adult, but it can be life-threatening for the small body of a child. Your child’s pediatrician can offer more advice on what types of bites can be treated at home.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a venomous animal or insect and needs emergency care, call 911 and the MHSC Emergency Department at 307-352-8350.